Taylor: D'OTA Buzz

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Just wanted to get this out of the way right off the top as three draft picks across the league have been signed in the past few days and people will be wondering how things stand with the Browns' stable of rookies: they stand nowhere as there has been zero talk between the team and the agents for their draft picks.  And, that will likely be the way it stays for at least another month, if not longer.

-- Boy, that was some shocking news that D'Qwell Jackson might consider holding out of training camp.  Man, where have we heard that his contract situation might drag into the summer?  I know we've seen that somewhere before…  (Insert eye roll at your leisure)

Of course, we've been reporting for months that the Jackson situation has the potential to get worse before it gets better, and nothing's changed because, quite frankly, the Browns have not been willing to do much of anything when it comes to the long-term deal Jackson craves.  This situation is eerily similar to the Josh Cribbs imbroglio in that Jackson was promised something by at least one – and possibly two, depending on which side you get the information from – member of the front office who is now an ex-member of the front office.  Of course, Cribbs also had a couple of Pro Bowl berths as a bargaining chip, whereas Jackson has nothing but potential and the tepid endorsement of the head coach.

-- So, yeah, it's no surprise that the Jackson situation is devolving.  What is surprising is the Matt Roth development.  As of a couple of weeks ago, the Roth camp gave no indication that they were even contemplating demanding a trade.  Something has changed during that period of time, and we're attempting to dig and figure out just what has changed.  Oh, and let it be known that the Browns are none too pleased that the Roth camp leaked the trade noise to the WWL.  That stunt did not help Roth's case.  At all.

-- A source with knowledge of the situation tells theOBR that the rave reviews coming out regarding Montario Hardesty will have no impact on when Jerome Harrison decides to sign his tender or make a decision on if he will attend the mandatory minicamp.  Just a piece of advice for Harrison: show up for the mandatory minicamp.  Trust us on this one.

-- Here's a little tidbit that may be apropos of absolutely nothing, or could mean everything: more than one player has privately noted to us that there seems to be a "different" Eric Mangini in place this year as compared to last.  They can't really put their finger on the "changes", but most attribute it to the presence of Mike Holmgren and the burden of being responsible for nearly everything involving the organization –brought on by himself, it should be noted – having been lifted off his shoulders by the hiring of Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert.  "He can concentrate on just being a football coach, a damn good football coach," one player noted.  Again, take it for what it's worth.

-- Kicker Leigh Tiffin was "absolutely blindsided" by his release Tuesday, one day after officially signing his two-year contract.  It was intimated to theOBR that certain things were said to the former Alabama player that made him think he had a chance to hang around well into training camp and even into the regular season.  In other words, welcome to the NFL, undrafted rookie.

-- When the Browns somewhat stunningly signed Jake Delhomme to a free-agent contract earlier this year, the organization was cautiously optimistic that his embarrassing performance in 2009 was nothing but a one-year blip on his career arc.  After being around the quarterback for the past two months, and on top of the "in-depth investigative work" they did before pursuing him, they are more confident than ever that they will get "The Good Jake" in 2010.  The club also firmly believes that his throwing-arm/shoulder "issues" were worse than anyone knew about last season, but are confident that he's back to 100-percent health and his play will reflect that fact.  Of course, that's provided the arm/shoulder isn't aggravated once the real bullets start flying.

-- One other little note regarding Delhomme: the level of professionalism and experience he has brought to the locker room "is like a breath of fresh air" according to one player who prefers to remain nameless.  At least amongst the players, there's the sense that Delhomme is more than just the stopgap he's perceived to be by fans and the media.

-- What occurs during the ongoing OTAs and upcoming minicamp will determine exactly what direction the Browns will go at the wide receiver position.  As we have noted in the past, almost no one around the league believes the Browns will head into the regular season with their current crop of receivers.  Can they as a group improve enough in the shorts & shells part of the offseason to keep the organization from pursuing a veteran receiver?  Could Delhomme – with his experience and veteran savvy – help them improve enough so that the Berea decision makers can eschew whatever's available in the free-agent pool come July/August?  Those will be the biggest questions that need answered over the next month or so.

-- Since being selected by the Browns with a third-round pick, Colt McCoy has "totally and completely immersed" himself in the playbook, the offensive philosophies and tutelage of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and quarterbacks coach Carl Smith.  "If he doesn't succeed [as a quarterback in the NFL] it won't be because a lack of effort or work," one source said.  Of course, the same things were done by and said about Brady Quinn, and we all know how that turned out, at least in Cleveland.

-- One final note: all of this glowing praise being flung at various members of the roster should be taken with a grain of salt the size of Shaun Rogers.  It's all puppies and rainbows right now as the Browns have yet to lose a single game with Holmgren & Heckert in charge.  Will it still remain that way once we get into September and October and the time spent on the football field really counts?  That remains to be seen, but there's no doubt that a quiet confidence and optimism is reigning supreme in Berea right now.


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